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Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirms district court's denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity to officer who tased plaintiff four times for failing to obey roadside instructions

On September 12, 2018, in Glasscox v. City of Argo, No. 16-16804, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s denial of the defendant police officer’s motion for summary judgment in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights case. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the police officer had used excessive force against the plaintiff during a traffic stop after the plaintiff was observed driving erratically and over the speed limit. The record at the summary judgment stage, viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, reflected that the plaintiff was a diabetic who was undergoing a severe hypoglycemic episode immediately prior to the stop. The encounter itself was captured by the officer’s body camera, which showed the officer initially commanding the plaintiff to exit the vehicle and then tasing him four times as the plaintiff attempted to comply with his instructions. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that even if the first taser shock was warranted based on a purported concern by the officer about the possibility of a weapon, the officer could see the plaintiff’s hands thereafter, and it was clear after the second shock that the plaintiff was in fact trying to comply with the officer’s orders. The Court concluded that a reasonable jury could find that the continued tasing violated the plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force.